Barbie, Princesses etc - harmless or perpetuating female stereotypes?

(78 Posts)
Spicedfennelwine Thu 14-Dec-06 10:54:23

actually, fortyplus, I think you'll find that "Action sindy" had bendy limbs, and "Ballet sindy" had joints.

[slinks back to lofty feminist anti-barbie stance]

but actiongirl sounds good, I wonder if she still exists.

fortyplus Thu 14-Dec-06 00:20:14

HoHoHorsewoman - surely you had Sindy's horse? I had an 'Action Girl' to ride mine - she had proper jointed limbs so she could sit properly on the horse - unlike sill Sindy whose knees didn't bend! And Action Girl had prper riding kit with jods, boots, jacket and a flocked black cap - nearly just like real velvet!

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Wed 13-Dec-06 22:26:54

Well, having reflected on the issue at length, I bought some 'princess' items today, as requested of "Father Christmas".

It seems fairly harmless - the pink paraphernalia is less influential than the horribly sexist fairytales and films anyway.

As someone said, we all like pretty things. I'll allow her a life of her own and take the innocence of youth for what it is - and let her play her little girlie games!

Now Bratz - that is a different story.

singsalot Wed 13-Dec-06 01:02:35

your dd might not be interested in Barbie? but re the "the onslaught of negative role models for my dds" - there was a tiny wee article in the paper saying "ads blamed for childhood stress"

"uk children see an average of 20,000 - 40,000 t.v adverts a year."

"child oriented market is worth £30bn annually in the uk" I would do a link(if I knew how) it makes good points about kids being groomed for consumerism, the fact that the merchandise for bratz is "forcing girls to grow up too soon"

but if you are aware of these things then you will probably make an effort to avoid them....

Yes I recall my Barbie also prefered the Military type

Stockingsofdinosaurs Tue 12-Dec-06 21:27:10

I don't think Ken ever did, did he? My Barbie got through a slew of Action Man suitors.

It has been brought up that Bratz are more culturally diverse. I disagree my DD's Barbies are very diverse. There are Asian and African & Indian. They are just not Barbie with different skin colors their facial features are quite correct. My DH even swears that the new Ken dolls do not prefer Barbie as his sexual preferece.

Stockingsofdinosaurs Tue 12-Dec-06 20:59:04

I don't know, it's frightening how many girls must adore Paris Hilton (if you go by the amount of airtime she gets on MTV) and she's a Bratz Princess Barbie all in one. And Jordan's pretty much a princess to all intents and purposes.
I think you had something when you said about girls valuing themselves by their ability to manipulate men but I think that's girls misinterpreting feminism and the products and adverts are symptomatic of that. I was certainly a femme fatale full of secret self-loathing as a teen and that was 15yrs ago.

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 19:42:40

Oh thank you dinosaurs and merrymonkey - feel embarrassed now for getting angsty

I think I have poorly expressed what I mean, which is the creeping commercialisation of childhood and the blanket indoctrination of princess/Barbie culture is what I mean.

It feels like when we were younger, the branding wasn't quite as intense, but it probably was.

Anyway, I hope you are all right. I mean I agree that you don't get many twenty something girls that want to be princesses - it can't be that pervasive?

averymerrymonkeymooXmastoyou Tue 12-Dec-06 19:06:29

I apologise if you felt under attack from my post. I did read your first post and agree to a certain extent however what I was trying to point out was that children don't analyse the toys/films/books so neither should we (within reason of course). I don't think they think about things in the same way and I was trying to point out that although I (and my friend) was bombarded by these messages when I was little its had no lasting affect on my opinions or sense of self worth.

Also my DD is my first and I agree that you do worry about things more than those with more than one

Stockingsofdinosaurs Tue 12-Dec-06 17:45:39

Don't feel under attack Santa, I think it just hijacked itself into a general debate, not arguments with you personally, your OP probably got forgotten some inches back .

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 17:11:55

I meant to add, after feeling a bit under attack for asking the question in the first place - thank you all for your comments anyway, which are most welcome.

I did want to hear both sides - even though I think there is an issue, it could just be first child-itis which I will have completely forgotten by the time the younger one gets there!

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 17:07:54

Actually all you people having a go at me for analysing too much have got completely the wrong end of the stick anyway. I can't really see the harm in the dolls or the toys or any of it in moderation.

I do feel it has reached saturation point where it isn't very healthy any more.

What I found really idiotic were the films. I don't particularly want my dds to grow up being completely bombarded with a plastic commercial princess/Barbie culture.

Dressing up a doll is one thing, I agree, completely harmless. Listening to endless fairy tales about princesses where being attractive to men is the be all and end all of existence is less so.

As for Playboy clothes etc well that is just very weird. Why would anyone want that stuff?

averymerrymonkeymooXmastoyou Tue 12-Dec-06 16:16:23

Don't we all like pretty things? Isn't that why some poeple read interior magazines or browse smart shops? The aspirational aspects.

Who wants to play with a plain, overweight, flat chested doll wearing sensible shoes?

JennyLeevesmilkandcookiesforSa Tue 12-Dec-06 15:39:50

said in an american accent

JennyLeevesmilkandcookiesforSa Tue 12-Dec-06 15:39:31

Have you watched the bratz cartoon? it is like, sooo pretentious, yeah, like , totally!

JennyLeevesmilkandcookiesforSa Tue 12-Dec-06 15:36:35

I am confused I do not have a girl but i thought bratz were good as they are all different races and colours, then saw on mumsnet that- and come to think of it is true that often they dress like whores , the bratz. but who wants to play with a plain looking doll who is well covered and not too thin in clothes that cover them properly and who don't have a toy penthouse and , men and toy babies? I eman what would a little girl play with that is totally politically correct? the mind boggles

iwouldloveadollypleaseSanta Tue 12-Dec-06 14:58:19

i think children will draw their own conclsions and their RL female role models are far more likely to influence them than their toys. when i was little i was really into history and wrapped all my cindy dolls in bandages to make them into egyptian mummies. conclusion?

averymerrymonkeymooXmastoyou Tue 12-Dec-06 14:32:31

I aspire to be like Barbie, isn't she a vet and a doctor?? Plus a model and airhostess, no wonder she can afford the big house, the SUV and the pony If I were half as talented, smart and beautiful as her I'd be very happy.

I think we need to give our kids a bit more credit for being able to distinguish between fantasy and reality when they get bigger. My best friend and I played with Barbie when we were little, we are both now in our 30s and I am a university lecturer and she has a high powered job for a major fashion chain.

Less analysis more fun.

(Btw I have a DD)

mateychops Tue 12-Dec-06 12:11:01

Love it all, INCLUDING Bratz!
Go on, shoot me now, shoot me now!

oliveoil Tue 12-Dec-06 11:52:46

my two love Barbies and dd2 (2.4yrs) asked Father Christmas for a pink one for Christmas

I don't think they do any harm

Methinks people analyse far too much these days, "oooh my son wants a sword" "ooooh, my daughter wants to be a princess"


I draw the line firmly at Bratz and their bling bling crap however, ffs.

WigWamBahhumbug Tue 12-Dec-06 11:46:09

I don't have a problem per se with the dolls (although I did read once that Barbie was modelled on a Nazi sex doll, so maybe they're not so wholesome after all ), it's all the assorted crap that goes with them that really annoys me - the fact that there are so many different types, styles and accessories to buy, and that they are marketed so heavily as the toy for little girls.

But with regard to the perpetuation of female stereotypes, little girls neither know nor care that real women don't act or look like this, that her vital statistics are not compatible with life, or that her feet are so small that she could never stand up in real life. They just like playing with dolls.

I can see why some people don't like them (and I wasn't exactly thrilled when people started buying them for dd) but little girls don't look at their toys the same way that adults do. We know that they're selling an unattainable image; little girls don't - and by the time they work it out, they're too old for Barbies anyway.

And if the alternative is Bratz or Playboy then Barbie is definitely the lesser of the evils!

Spicedfennelwine Tue 12-Dec-06 11:38:47

though I am quite fond of "wetsuit barbie" who is a diver, her black wetsuit disappears when she's put in the bath. DP also, for some reason, likes this one.

the girls used to call her "wetwipe barbie" which did make me feel a bit, well, icky.

Spicedfennelwine Tue 12-Dec-06 11:36:41

This house resists barbie crap, and disney princess crap too. Despite having 3 small girls. Mine do have the occasional Barbie, usually bought by a friend, but rarely play with them. And I just won't buy them all that branded "merchandise" - Barbie or disney clothes or scooters. they aren't that bothered either.

Resist the pink plastic plague sisters!

HoHoHorsewoman Tue 12-Dec-06 11:33:37

Playboy Bunny stuff (widely available in Argos) now that's a different kettle of pornographic aspirations altogether....tasteless and nasty (When I grow up, I want to be a rich man's plaything)

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 11:33:26

I agree stockingsofdinosaurs, what on earth possesses someone to do that?

There is part of me that hopes that it is just an ignorance thing and they don't really get it. For me it just emphasises the sexualisation of female empowerment. For adults it is bad enough, but for pre-pubescent girls I find it highly inappropriate.

As well as sending the message to girls that there is little point creating your own luck, and that your power is only linked to how manipulative you can be towards men.

Dangerous times for our girls I think. I don't want her to look at the world from a fish eye lens of men being in control of their ultimate success.

HoHoHorsewoman Tue 12-Dec-06 11:31:19

As a child I had a Sindy and all the bits that went with it - Barbie wasn't my thing, and DD1 hated Barbie with a passion. DD2 however....Little antichrist, danger-baby, pushes sweetcorn up her nose and farts when sitting on stranger's knees...loves Barbie and anything pink and princessy (but she loves pirates too). I think that we don't have to behave like men to be kickass - celebrate our differences, but take them on when it's important, that's my motto. I work in a very male-dominated world, and can easily hold my own with any of them - no subservience here - but pink is my favourite colour, I have to admit, but then again, DH has 2 pink shirts and a pink sweater, and he's no Barbara Cartland (nor did he ever have a Barbie doll).

Stockingsofdinosaurs Tue 12-Dec-06 11:22:39

Maybe the Playboy mums think pornography is all about female empowerment and think the Bunnies are great rolemodels.
I just don't get why anyone would dress their kids or decorate kids' rooms with a sodding jazzmag logo!

I also think that we should forget that while we are just as good as men, we are women and its fun to be feminine. All the fluffy, sparkly pink that adult women hate is just ways for little girls to exagerate their femininity. I don't neccessarily think there is anything wrongwith that.

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 08:53:31

Thank you all for your replies.

I suppose you're right magicstar and fortyplus - my dad spent my whole childhood teaching me DIY and stuff, and I was definitely programmed to think of women as 'the same as men'.

However, I am definitely more girlie than my childhood would have suggested.

No TV helps I bet, singsalot, so that the influence isn't wall to wall 24 hours a day. I think that i will have to keep an eye on what they are taking in at a young age, and be ready to say "What a ridiculous thing to say" next time I hear a princess told "You are no better than a common maid".

Food for thought, but not something to be overly worried about is my conclusion. I try not to get too uptight about anything these days.

fortyplus Tue 12-Dec-06 01:06:09

ds2 had a Barbie for his birthday when he was 2
He had fairy wings when he was 3

He's 11 now & shows no signs whatsoever of being a bad influence to young girls!

magicstaronthefarawaytree Tue 12-Dec-06 01:02:40

dd always asks for barbie becauase her friends do. but we have 1 and she rarely plays with it. too busy racing round the house. I always wanted a ballerina sindy and all the bits, and I am more handy andy than domestic goddess.

singsalot Mon 11-Dec-06 23:59:25

I failed to resist,
I never encouraged my dd(5) to like these things either, the thing is she isn't obsessed, she wanted a Barbie, saw it in a charity shop window, so I got it, she insisted it should be put away for her birthday, she sometimes plays with it, but has no idea of the extent of the merchandise that goes with it(no t.v), I also got her a Barbie cake for her birthday(barbie doll stuck in a cake), so she has charity barbie and cake barbie,

dd doesn't have lots of girly friends and none that are really into barbie, it seems to be power rangers with her friends, she hasn't watched it, but is pink power ranger Rosa, which is worse?

I also think if you try and deny them the pink fluffiness of it all then our kids might turn into barbara cartland - she surely never had a barbie as a child?

maybe we are on the slippery slope now, she only wants a barbie horse for xmas, £10 in t.k maxx

Tortington Mon 11-Dec-06 23:12:58

barbie is a slut.

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 23:07:33

poins dog, you are so right, thank you. I can't really go it alone and ban Barbie - it will just make it MORE interesting for her. However, I can begin the Barbie/Princess backlash campaign, and give her more interesting convos with her girlie mates!

poinsettydog Mon 11-Dec-06 23:00:43

Accept these things as part of the world around them and have conversations about them. Talk about such issues openly and humorously. I think that's the only way to "resist the onslaught"

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:59:42

Essbee - I lusted after the girl;s world head and eventually after years of lobbying I got it.

I probably had girly toys, but I just cringe now.

She will probably turn out OK no matter what, I spose.

essbee Mon 11-Dec-06 22:58:59

Message withdrawn

essbee Mon 11-Dec-06 22:58:08

Message withdrawn

My DD loves the Animal Hospital.(Don't waste money on the helicopter)

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:53:42

Essbee - I suppose ds's are no more clued up about the world, and just as likely to pick an inappropriate role model. Deep down I know that I shouldn't worry about this. I just feel so "icky" about the whole Pink Princess thing. So far I have pandered to it, but I am starting to rebel.

I have a hidden card up my sleeve this Xmas - Animal hospital - {prays please be a vet or a doctor or something}

I'm not sure what a crofter is, but I have thought about having a situation that is a little more innocent. She is only 3 and I'm worried that as she gets older she'll want the Btraz and Playboy junk. I guess in the end you can't protect them from it just try togive them the best cornerstone possible and resign yourself to saying no all the time.

Oh No!!!!

I'm going to be my mother.

essbee Mon 11-Dec-06 22:50:04

Message withdrawn

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:42:43

PPB - you sound like me - have you considered becoming a crofter on a Scottish estate just to insulate the dc from all the malign influences?

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:41:15

I know, essbee, but don't you ever get a pit of the stomach feeling when reading fairy tales? I sometimes think - why don't little boys dress up as helpless objects of female desire?

NappiesGalooooooooooooria Mon 11-Dec-06 22:41:12

thankfully i only have boys so wont have to dwell much on the subject. but personally think all that pink crap is just vomit-worthy.

like i say, damn good job i have just boys. no idea how i'd cope if i had a dd who liked all that sh1t <shudder>

essbee Mon 11-Dec-06 22:41:06

Message withdrawn

Well Hugh Heffner won't be getting a dime of mine or DD's money. There is sooo much pressure for them to grow up so soon. How am I going to keep her a child for as long as she needs to be?

essbee Mon 11-Dec-06 22:39:45

Message withdrawn

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:38:02

No Paula - the chattering classes are there with you. Playboy - positive role model?

I saw agirl today in a middrift playboy bunny top. She must have been 4 or 5. Why would someone do this to their child? Am I oldfashioned?

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:32:59

BP - I love being patronised by a pre-schooler. Wish my dd would come out with THAT!

morningpaper Mon 11-Dec-06 22:32:45

baked potato LOL!

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:31:58

MI - I think you're right. Thank God for Barbie if the alternative is Bratz. Eugghh.

Next they'll be wearing T shirts emblazoned with "crack-fiend".

BTW - Playboy clothes for young girls - innocent rabbit logo?

bakedpotato Mon 11-Dec-06 22:30:19


I attempted to have this chat with DD. I said, 'Barbie doesn't look like real people. I wouldn't want you to grow up wanting to look like that'

DD looked at me, appalled, and said sternly, 'It's not very nice to say things about the way people look'

motherinfurrierfestivefrock Mon 11-Dec-06 22:28:51

Shrek. It's fabulous.

MP, I have finally given in on Barbies simply because they aren't Bratz. (DD1 is nearly six.)

I do spend a lot of time wondering where I went wrong, you know. Am encouraged by the fact that although DD2 wants to marry a prince and live in a castle DD1 appears to be moving into a slightly less pink phase.

I let my DD play with Barbies, she loves them and a lot of it is how you play with them.When we play Barbie is not a bimbo but a career woman or lately a mommy. I will not however allow those vile Bratz into my home. Trashy

Stockingsofdinosaurs Mon 11-Dec-06 22:24:59

We've only just started introducing feature length films so there's only TV character stuff in the house. And DD would be scared of most Disney films anyway (hates fighting, shouting and generally naughty people.)
So far we have watched Nanny McPhee, Polar Express, Madagascar and Lady & The Tramp (which was booooooooring.) Can anyone recommend anything else non-scary that's entertaining for adults? (or should I start a new thread actually?)

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:22:38

Carmenere - yes, I need to get back to work pronto. She has decided that "mummies stay at home and daddies earn the money to buy the house". I am only on mat leave for chrissakes! I would love to drop the bombshell that I am the breadwinner (when full time).

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:19:58

Sorry about the multiple postings, am reading replies one by one.

MP - love the idea of buying a male doll to do the ironing - will consider Action Man or similar to counteract the "get back in the kitchen/ballroom" kind of mentality.

morningpaper Mon 11-Dec-06 22:19:39

I would have thought by school age Barbie is a bit passe

You will have to buy her Bratz then or she will get beaten up

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:16:29

Stockings of dinosaurs - you sound in control. Have you seen those hideous "pageant dresses" on ebay? wtf???

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:14:39

LOL serenity, you have just reassured me immensely that ds wants to be a princess! Who wouldn't want to be?

I don't want her to be excluded when all the other girls are talking about the new Barbie film, I suppose. But I find the gist of them quite horrifying. Like brainwashing or something.

morningpaper Mon 11-Dec-06 22:13:27

Yes Santa you are right

It is creeping into the house


When a friend asked her recently what would happen AFTER HER FABULOUS WEDDING, she gave it some thought and replied "I'll go back to my kingdom."

oh dear

serenitynightholynight Mon 11-Dec-06 22:12:23

DS2 wanted to be a fireman or a princess (didn't want to point out the logistical problems with it)

DD wants to be the tooth fairy, but we have to discourage her from taking them by force.

Stockingsofdinosaurs Mon 11-Dec-06 22:11:55

My dd wants to be a duck and an elephant when she grows up, at the same time. I think Barbie probably earns more.

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:11:53

It's not so much the Barbie dolls - a bit of dressing up is quite acceptable.

It's more the DVDs, stories, fairy tales etc. I feel like I am telling her that the female role in the world is to be a kind of puppet, subject to male control?

morningpaper Mon 11-Dec-06 22:10:14

My dd is 4 and loves anything Barbie, even the awful films

I also felt Barbie Horror to start with but she loves her Barbies so much and whenever she went to friends houses she would be a silent Barbie adoration as she played with them, so I cracked and now the house is full of long-limbed bimbos. Fortunately she doesn't seem to discriminate between Barbie and a Sylvanian Rabbit, so I don't know if it really IS that evil. I bought her a David Seaman "Ken" type World Cup doll "So that there is someone to do the ironing" and she loves him too.

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:08:59

LOL - active convos even. "Active combos" - is that a Freudian slip of how I see MN or something??

X posted everyone else - input much appreciated!

Carmenere Mon 11-Dec-06 22:08:26

Well my instinct is that they are a really bad influence on young girls however I had lots of dolls(Sindy to be exact) but I had very positive role models in my mother and grandmother ect who all had careers of sorts as well as running large families. I'm not sure that if your dd is interested in pink girly princessy things that it is worth actively discouraging her as long as women are treated with equalty and respect in her real world.

motherinfurrierfestivefrock Mon 11-Dec-06 22:08:12

I agree but have glumly come to the conclusion that Barbie is not the worst of it.

serenitynightholynight Mon 11-Dec-06 22:07:49

Oh, I agree with Barbie dressing up clothes, they are vile (not that fond of pink frills anyway but DD is) you can get far nicer things. Over priced tat really.

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 22:07:14

LVT - thank you so much for replying to my thread.

I had just concluded that since it was about to drop off active combos like a lead balloon, that I am over-reacting.

The reason I ask is that dd1(3) has so far declared that when she grows up she wants to be

1) a princess
2) a fairy
3) Barbie

I can't help but feel that at an early age she is being pumped full of very outdated ideas??

Stockingsofdinosaurs Mon 11-Dec-06 22:06:30

Forgot to say she can have Barbie dolls when she wants one but not all the other branded rubbish. And Barbie is far better than the Bratz crackwhores and Polly Paris Hilton Pocket.

serenitynightholynight Mon 11-Dec-06 22:06:03

Tbh I think it's fairly harmless fantasy, but then in my house it's DS2 who loves Barbie, DD isn't that bothered. I grew up with Sindys and I am the least fluffy, pink person you can imagine! I really believe that it's the lessons taught by me and DH, in how we live our lives and what standards and morals (for lack of a better word - I've got a rotten cold and a mushy brain) we demonstrate that will shape the DCs. In our house Barbie usually joins forces with Action Man to fight of evil aliens, although this year I think she's got her eyes on Dr Who

Stockingsofdinosaurs Mon 11-Dec-06 22:04:53

I'm more concerned about the copious amounts of pink plastic tat clogging up the Western world. My dd's 3 and says she likes Barbie but doesn't really know much about it (hurray for advert-free CBeebies!) - she will not be getting a hideous Barbie or Disney Princess dress for Christmas. There are some lovely princess dresses out there that don't look like pageant dresses, the official ones are overpriced and hideous.

LieselVonGiftwrapp Mon 11-Dec-06 22:04:08

Barbies are fab. Thats all Ive got to say - but then Im a Princess

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 21:57:51

Luckily I have not got to this stage yet with dd1.

However, round someone else's house the other day, the children were watching a Barbie film (12 Dancing Princesses as I remember). It was just so ludicrously sexist - at one stage the "mother" said to the girls "You are no better than a common maid".

Am I over-reacting or should I try to resist the onslaught of negative role models for my dds?

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now